Save your sanity and bank account
Phones ringing off the hook, emails flying all over, the local television reporter at your door and frantic employees worried if they have will have a job tomorrow. Panic sets in. This is what happens when a crisis hits your business and your bottom line.
Organizations of all sizes may be forced to navigate choppy waters when a business interruption reveals challenging vulnerabilities. Notably, such public crises have significantly impacted major corporations, such as Blue Bell Creameries, Volkswagen, Chipotle and Takata Corporation, to name a few.
What these industry giants have in common is that all have faced public embarrassment involving at least one of the four “P’s” – people, processes, profits or position in the market place. The thread of trust was compromised and compounded, bringing them to the forefront of consumers worldwide. Not simply due to the voracious appetite of the media, but because consumers and stakeholders are expecting more in the areas of accountability, transparency and, most of all, credibility.
The mind of a business executive in these cases is focused on one thing – Survival. But it is the next steps that are critical. Preparing for a business crisis with the appropriate mindset is paramount to success.
The most frequently used definition of a crisis is when “a sudden issue is a concern or interruption, which could cause harm to your company, brand or entity, triggered by reactions to or from internal or external sources that could negatively impact the organization’s reputation either operationally or financially for an infinite amount of time.”
Small and large businesses generally spend very little time thinking about the vulnerable areas of their business in the context of a crisis. Yet this is a must in today’s voracious news cycle.
A Crisis Plan is generally the last item on the to-do list that never seems to get marked off as complete. But the worst time to build a relationship is during a crisis. There is hope and a way to stay ahead of the game with a viable framework for success.
Here are four quick tips to get ahead of the situation.
- Get clarity of the situation
- Focus and engage your team
- Develop an action plan
- Breathe… Finally, follow this list of nine action plan steps to keep your sanity.
1 PLAN FOR THE WORST!
Assume a process, product or person(s) could immediately impact the company and its bottom line.
2 IDENTIFY WHO NEEDS TO KNOW WHAT TO DO AND IN WHAT ORDER.
The easiest way to prepare for a company crisis is about knowing who is on first. Contact the key leaders, stakeholders, customers or clients who need to know about the immediate issue. Don’t let your key team members be the last to know what is happening.
3 DETERMINE RESOURCES NEEDED.
Who has the budget? When your company is facing an immediate issue, requesting a purchase order, going through three signatures and issuing a paper check can take an enormous amount of time and slow down the process tremendously. Consider having a company credit card or special account set up ahead.
4 IDENTIFY A KEY LEADER OR SPOKESPERSON IN ADDITION TO THE CEO.
It would be a wise business decision to train a few senior staff members in addition to the CEO. What happens if the CEO is out of the country for two weeks or on vacation? Identify who is immediately in charge.
5 TAKE CONTROL AND SET THE AGENDA – TELL YOUR OWN STORY.
Be the first to set the record straight to protect your company.
6 BE PREPARED FOR YOUR CRISIS TO BREAK FIRST ON SOCIAL MEDIA.
Write down your passwords and have a backup resource to update your various websites.
7 REACT QUICKLY.
Communicate often because timing is critical. A crisis will not wait in this 24-hour news cycle.
8 DRILL, PRACTICE AND DRILL FOR A CRISIS.
When a written plan is developed, it should be an active document and should not simply sit on a shelf.
9 HIRE A PROFESSIONAL – ENOUGH SAID.
The issue won’t simply go away.